When podcasting first started out, I was interested (radio talk show but wherever you go and on your own time!) but did not have an opportunity to really tune in. I was a student at the time, and I already had fingers in publishing, writing, and editing—not to mention the loads of book blogs I used to follow but no longer thanks to the fall of the Blogger dashboard. (I still wonder what happened to all those blogs and if I might find a place where they still exist within my Google account, accruing unread posts like unused furniture accrues dust and cat hair).
In any event, my current day job allows me to listen to podcasts, and I have been doing so for over a year now. In that time, I have stumbled across and listened to many a person discuss this or that or the other thing. Here is a listing of my favorite podcasts, the ones that get me through afternoon slugs and final hours. Here are the podcasts that tickle my fancy, so check them out.
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Hosted by Linda Holmes, the editor of the NPR blog Monkey See. Featuring Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon, and a fourth panelist who rotates between several NPR staff members and friends of the show. Pop Culture Happy Hour is a round table discussion about current pop culture trends with a focus on television and film. I often agree with their assessments of movies I like, and I am particularly fond of the opinions of Glen Weldon, fellow literary and comic book geek though his knowledge of the literary, both graphic and otherwise, is much greater than mine. The final segment, What’s Making Us Happy, is a great source for new entertainment if you are looking to branch out of your comfort zone. Not going to lie, this is the podcast that inspired my creating this blog. (Maybe when my archives are nice and solid, I’ll send some samples their way!)
Hosted by Kevin Allison, RISK is a storytelling podcast that is definitely not meant for children. The tagline is “True stories you never thought you’d dare to share.” The content of the stories range from growing up queer to sexual encounters to childhood abuse to drugs and everything else in between. Some stories are funny, some are intense, some are super sad, but they all come from the heart. I love when you hear the audience shouting encouragement to the storytellers. Allison makes the stage a safe place for people to tell their stories, so whoops and hollers are encouraged. After all, when you’re telling stories you never guessed you’d be sharing, audience encouragement is required. Not recommended for listeners with a high school maturity or lower.
Anime Addicts Anonymous
updates Thursdays (?)
I never figured out when this podcast updates on the regular. I just know to look for a new show every couple of days. AAA’s mission is to make your anime addiction worse by presenting the latest anime news from Japan and reviewing anime. They watch bad anime so you don’t have to! There are three main hosts: Mitsugi, Chiaki, and Kazuo; with several friends of the show joining from time to time: Felix, Kram, Kimiko, and others. No one uses their real name since, well, anonymous is literally in the title. The podcast showrunners maintain a forum for community members to interact with each other. I am a member but rarely active. And they broadcast live on Sunday afternoons, which is always entertaining when I can make the live broadcast. My favorite segments are when they talk about Japanese culture outside of anime. Someday I may introduce myself to them at a con, if ever we attend the same con.
updates every second Friday
I call this the science podcast for artsy-fartsy types. Radiolab takes an interesting or impossible story and runs with it, asking questions and rejecting unplausible answers. Hosted by Jad Abumrand and Robert Krulwich, who have a great dynamic with each other. Radiolab uses soundscapes the same way a documentary would use visuals, which is to say purposefully and effectively. There have been several times where I stop whatever I’m doing to marvel at the wonders happening in my ears as a result of Radiolab, often involving a mind-blowing revelation regarding science coupled with an accurate audio-fied representation of the feeling of wonder. If you have not taken the opportunity to listen to Radiolab, I highly recommend it.
Not thrilled by my favorites? Let me know what you are listening to in the comments. Then check out some of these others I enjoy.
- Clarkesworld Magazine podcast — science fiction and fantasy short fiction, hosted and narrated by Kate Baker
- The Thrilling Adventure Hour — a new-time podcast in the style of old-time radio, written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker.and starring a slew of actors you may know and recognize
- Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me — NPR’s news quiz, hosted by Peter Segal with scorekeeper Bill Curtis
- Welcome to Night Vale — community news and updates about the fictional desert town of Night Vale. Turn on the radio and hide. Hosted by Cecil Baldwin and written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.
- Freakonomics — economic theory applied to explore the hidden side of everything. Hosted by Stephen Dubner